About a month ago, I reviewed xScope Browser v 4.6. At the time, I was impressed with certain aspects of the browser, but was not thrilled with others. If you recall, my main gripe with xScope was that pinch-zoom was not as fluid as with the stock browser. Also, remember that the file browser and task manager were not worthwhile for a power user. Page rendering was fast, but just about equal to stock. As such, I decided to continue using Android’s stock browser. Since then, however, xScope has undergone drastic changes both internally and aesthetically in its newest v5 build. This review will be of the latest build of xScope, 5.11. Also, I will be showcasing a theme pack, which includes Clean Looks, Desire, and Mini-Opus themes. I am not sure if this theme pack is available on the Android Market just yet, but take a look and see if it is something you would be interested in.
Page Rendering: To revisit page rendering, the newest version of xScope is incredibly fast. Uncached pages are now loading much faster than stock browser. This alone is exciting, because one of the most important aspects of a browser is SPEED! I tested the full pages of engadget.com, droidforums.net, and droidblog.net, and I cannot stress this enough, xScope renders these complex pages with ease. Page rendering for cached pages is also incredibly fast, and I would say, slightly faster than the stock Browser.
xScope v5 has also cleaned up and vastly improved pinch-zoom, which is a must-have feature for many users. The pinch-zoom now is much smoother than in previous versions, and just as good, if not better than the stock Browser. Also, pinch-zooming is incredibly accurate, where you can zoom in to the most minute details of a web page with ease. Pin-zoom also works well, and is a nice touch when browsing with one hand.
The ability to theme xScope is a new feature that was truly exciting for me. Stock xScope looks fine, but is rather plain. There really is no need to complain about the stock look, because a minimalistic approach is better at times. However, after playing around with the included themes, I will never return to the stock look again. My favorite theme, hands down, is the Mini-Opus theme, which is based on the look of Opera Mobile. Black bars with hints of dark red allow the red icons to pop; this theme matches the Motorola Droid’s color scheme rather nicely. I was also impressed with the Desire theme, which seems to be a combination of HTC’s Sense UI and Google Chrome.
xScope Desire Theme
xScope Mini-Opus Theme
Copy/Paste and Scrolling:
Another new feature is the ability to use the volume rocker as a page scroller. I found this handy when browsing with one hand. I also found it to be a requirement when trying to copy and paste. This is where my first, and perhaps only gripe comes into play. The new method of copy/paste is way too difficult without the aid of page scrolling via the d-pad or the volume rocker. For instance, after tapping the copy/paste icon on the top bar, there is no way to select text, except what is showing in that window. Maybe in future versions, long-pressing the screen could trigger a copy/paste dialog.
New Favorites Options:
xScope - New Favorite Options
The final changes that I will be highlighting are the new options found on the top bar. To the left of the address bar, we see a “Star” icon, which traditionally is used to Favorite a webpage. However, xScope now ties multiple new options to the Favorite icon, including the ability to easily share a url, take a screenshot of the webpage, compact the url, find/copy text, copy url, save the webpage, and set the home. Also you can change the user agent easily here too, and user agent options can now be saved per domain!
Tabbing and Other Features:
One of my favorite features, which was available in previous versions of xScope, is desktop-style tabbing. I tested the browser by loading up 4 pages at once with the tabs visible, and they all loaded smoothly. Switching between tabs is quick, and my experience was lag-free. xScope truly gives a desktop-type browsing experience.
I will not go into the Task Manager and File Browser as I did in my previous review, because not much has changed here. However, they are still included, and function well enough for those interested.
To sum this up, xScope v5.11 is the complete package that you would ever want in a browser. It is above and beyond any other browser available for Android, including stock, Dolphin and Opera Mini Beta. I highly recommend the newest version. If you have doubts, there is a lite version available, which excludes a few of the newest options. However, for $2.99USD you can’t go wrong with the best Android browser on the Market.
Link to developer here
Androlib link here
Written by Matt Abramson, a.k.a Wuyanks on Droidforums.net:
contact him via Email , or twitter:@m_abramson